We have put together some games and activities for you to use at home to encourage your child’s talking and listening. Some activities are aimed at developing your child’s understanding by using everyday activities. Our speech activities develop your child’s listening skills. Our language activities focus on supporting understanding of language. They are broken down into different key areas. We also have secondary language activities for older children to develop the key skills they need to access a more demanding curriculum.
The best way to encourage your child’s speech and language development is to do lots of talking and listening together. There is no need to have special tasks or extra time in the day to do this, it is always good to talk. This is why everyday activities like mealtimes, having a bath and even household chores, such as organising the washing, are perfect for developing your child’s speech and language skills. By using everyday activities, you can talk about events and situations that are very familiar to your child and it enables them to practice the language skills that they have already learned and to build on these skills.
Almost any daily event can be used, there are some ideas below to get you started.
To produce clear speech a child needs to be able to hear the difference between different sounds as well as be able to make individual sounds. This is called discrimination and it is one of the most important skills your child needs to master for learning to read as well as talk.
We have divided this page into two sections. In the first section you’ll find some online games for your child to play. These games are graded listening tasks.
In the second section you will find some activities for you to complete with your child to encourage good sound discrimination to help their reading and talking.
These games are to help develop your child’s ability to tell the difference between sounds and work out where sounds are in words. Both these skills are important for speaking as well as reading.
There are five different levels:
- Pirate Island Helps listen for single sounds
- Circus Helps identify sounds in simple words
- Haunted House Helps discriminate between socially unfamiliar words
- Racing Helps identify sounds at the beginning
- Submarine Helps identify sounds at beginning and ends of words
Use these games to encourage your child to hear single sounds and identify sounds at the beginning and ends of words.
We have put together lots of games and activities for you to use with your child at home to encourage their understanding and talking. We have divided the page into sections representing different language skills. In each section there is an explanation of why that language skill is important followed by some suggested activities.
Secondary Language Activities
Language development does not stop when a child reaches the end of primary school. As a child moves up into secondary school they will need to understand and use more complex language and vocabulary in order to succeed. We have put together some activities aimed at developing older children’s understanding. The resources are divided into key areas of language with clear explanations of why each area is important and what you can do at home to support your child.
Children need to identify when they don’t understand what someone has said to them in order to ask for help. For example, did the instruction include a word that they’d never heard before, or was the sentence too long and they couldn’t remember all the information? Developing Active Listening skills helps children become independent learners, so they can monitor their own understanding and ask for help.
Reassure your child that nobody understands all the time and explain that it’s important to ask for help. Set up times when you will give unclear or complex spoken information on purpose, to enable them to practise telling you that they don’t understand and to ask you for help.
Using a word that you know they don’t understand, e.g. “We are having pie, chips and legumes for dinner tonight.” Encourage your child to identify words that they don’t know and ask you what they mean. (Legumes is another word for vegetables.)
Using long and complicated sentences or instructions, e.g. “After you have put your coat upstairs, I want you to give me your reading book and maths homework and put your laptop on the table.” Encourage your child to tell you when your instructions are too long and to ask you to make them shorter. (Put your coat upstairs… give me your reading book and maths homework…put your laptop on the table).
Missing out important information, e.g. “I want you to go to your bedroom and get me your thingy.” Encourage your child to ask you what you mean. (I want you to get your reading book.)
It is likely that there will be times when you don’t understand something that your child is telling you. It is important that you make them aware that you don’t understand and ask questions or encourage them to add information or change the words to make it clearer. This is a great way for you to model what they should be doing when they don’t understand something.
Use the activities below to help your child develop their Active Listening skills:
In this section you will find activities for your child to practise understanding instructions containing ‘sequence’ – these instructions contain words that tell us the order we need to do something in. Sequence words include ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘first’, ‘last’ and ‘until’.
It is really important that your child is able to understand instructions containing these words as they will be used many times at home and during school. This includes the order that they need to complete tasks or actions in. Young people who have difficulty understanding these words in instructions will find it hard to follow them correctly in order to do ‘the right thing’ and may end up getting into trouble.
You can work on helping your child to understand ‘sequence’ words by using them during your day when talking.
e.g. When you are making a sandwich, you can talk about the order you need to complete steps in:
“The last thing we will do is cut the sandwich in half.” “Before we put the cheese in, we need to butter the bread.” “We can’t cut the sandwich in half until we put the two slices of bread together.” “First we need to take two slices of bread out of the bag.” “We can add the filling, after we butter the bread.”
Use these activities to help your child practise following instructions containing ‘sequence’:
In this section you will find activities for your child to practise understanding instructions containing ‘position’ words – these instructions contain words that tell us where something is. Position words include, ‘left’, ‘right’, ‘centre’, ‘front’ and ‘back’.
These instructions are frequently used within the classroom and at home to tell children what they need to do and where they need to do it, so it is important that they can understand them.
You can work on helping your child to understand ‘position’ words by using them during your day when talking.
e.g. “Start writing a new line on the left side of the page.” “Put the salt and pepper in the centre of the table.” “The book I want is third from the right on the bookcase.”
Use this activity to help your child practise following instructions containing ‘position’:
Position Words Activity
In this section you will find activities for your child to practise understanding instructions containing ‘conditions’ – these instructions contain words that tell you what you can or can’t do in certain situations. Conditional words include ‘unless’, ‘if’ and ‘otherwise’.
These can be difficult for children to understand correctly as they are very abstract (not something that you can see or touch). They are often used when adults are giving instructions where there is a consequence, e.g. “Unless you complete your homework, you are not going outside” or “I will let you go to the cinema, if you clean your room”. Young people who have difficulty understanding these words in instructions will find it hard to follow them correctly in order to do ‘the right thing’ and may end up getting into trouble.
You can work on helping your child to understand ‘condition’ words by using them during your day when talking,
e.g. “I can’t brush my teeth unless I put toothpaste on my brush” “We need to set the table, otherwise we can’t have dinner” “If the clothes are dirty, put them in the wash basket”
Use these activities to help your child practise following instructions containing ‘conditions’:
In this section you will find activities for your child to practise understanding instructions containing ‘exclusion’ or ‘inclusion’ – these instructions contain words that tell you if you need to leave something out (exclude) or put something in (include). Exclusion and inclusion words include ‘neither…nor’, ‘either…or’, ‘all…except’, ‘instead of’ and ‘both’.
These can be difficult for young people to understand correctly as they are very abstract (not something that you can see or touch). They are often used when adults are giving instructions for completing a task.
e.g. “I want you to answer all of the questions on page 46, except the last one” – a child might misunderstand this and complete just the last question.
They are also used when explaining what is going to be happening,
e.g. “We are going to Grandma’s on Saturday instead of football club” – a child might misunderstand and think that they will be doing both.
Young people who have difficulty understanding these words will find it hard to understand what they need to do or what is expected of them in a given situation.
You can help your child to understand ‘exclusion’ and ‘inclusion’ words by using them during your day when talking,
e.g. “You need to eat either your peas or your carrots” “I want you to put away all of your toys, except the one you are playing with” “You played both hockey and football today” “We are going to have stir fry for dinner instead of chips” “Neither me nor your Mum want to watch a film”
Use these activities to help your child practise following instructions containing ‘exclusion’ and ‘inclusion’: